Yesterday I took a look at what it might take to re-sign Omer Asik and how that compares to other centers in the league. Asik's cap hit projects to be outside of the top 20 highest paid centers in the NBA as early as the summer of 2016. Considering his value to the Pelicans I believe that to be not just a fair price, but a bargain. This is before diving into the value of continuity for a franchise which sorely lacks it.
The other part of this equation is cap space in 2016. Every NBA team is going to have a load of it, but not every team is going to have Anthony Davis. The time to strike, and get a Robin to AD's Batman is fast arriving. (That is, of course, only if Jrue Holiday remains injured and unable to take up the mantle himself.) Could re-signing Asik to a big contract limit the possibility of that happening? Not at all.
Let's take a quick and dirty look at the Pelicans re-signing Omer Asik. Again I will use the 4 year, $42.6M figure from Sunday. It is possible, and preferable, for Asik to be re-signed at the lowest possible cost. That 4 yr/$42.6M is near the outermost reaches of what I deem an acceptable cost for Asik. Included below is also signing Dante Cunningham to a deal for equivalent to the room level exception while also re-signing both Norris Cole and Jeff Withey to their respective qualifying offers.
This team maintains the entire rotation from this past season outside of the predicted loss of Alexis Ajinca. However, despite that it has the opportunity to add a max contract player in 2016 with relative ease. The 25% cap maximum offer (for players with less than seven years NBA experience) is projected to be $21 Million in 2016. (That estimate assumes a $90M cap, the actual number will come in below $21M.) The 30% max (for players with seven to nine years experience, including Kevin Durant) is going to clock in just short of $25 Million, what you see AD's extension for in the above chart.
So to get the 2016 projected 7-9 max you calculate (89.0*17.695) / 63.065 = $24.97M. @NBACapAnalyst— Larry Coon (@LarryCoon) April 26, 2015
It is important to understand here that if the Pelicans do make a big play for Durant (are you offering anyone else in the class that much?) then either Holiday or Evans will be shown the door; creating a decent amount of residual cap space for such an offer. There simply are not enough possessions to make it work. Holiday or Evans, in 2016, will be easily moved contracts in their final year. In that everyone having cap space is a net positive.
It is also good for the Pelicans to be competitive and have a solid supporting cast to convince such a star to come down to New Orleans. "Anthony Davis and we'll figure out the rest" is not a plan that is going to be bought by free agents, especially when nearly every team in the league will have max cap space to offer.
Winning, not just flexibility, is going to sell in the market. Some teams (Spurs, Lakers, Heat, Celtics, maybe Knicks) can sell location, historical relevance, or a front office with a proven track record (R.C. Buford, Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, maybe Phil Jackson). The Pelicans have none of these built in advantages. They also lack the "come home" appeal that the Wizards can sell to Durant; the same home court advantage that helped the Cavs out of mediocrity in an instant.
The Pelicans must establish a winning culture, have Anthony Davis in a long term contract, and have flexibility if they desire to credibly throw their hat into the ring for the best of the best. Skimping out on some of those ingredients is a recipe for a poorly baked cake.